Please respect my privacy at this difficult time, as I mourn the loss of Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson’s relationship. The couple has reportedly broken up after nine months and one irreversible branding of her name on his chest. (Tattoos are cover-able, a la “Wino Forever,” but seriously…what is he going to do about that?) Despite graver threats to humanity, such as our burning planet—or, perhaps, because of them—the Kardashi-son split has left me unmoored.
How could I, an adult woman who ostensibly has a life and knows from fickle celebrity relationships, fall prey to Kim and Pete’s sorcery? For one, they were unlikely—as against-all-odds as a couple in a beach read: Kardashian, the modern-day Marilyn, falling for Davidson, with his scruff and Staten Island street style. Even their mutual friend Megan Fox couldn’t have predicted it. As Kardashian shared on the first season of Hulu’s The Kardashians, Davidson asked Fox for Kardashian’s number months before they met on the set of Saturday Night Live, when she came on to host. Fox replied in no uncertain terms: “Dude, you have a better shot of me and [Machine Gun Kelly] getting eaten by crocodiles. Never gonna happen. Do not ask us.” It’s too much: Davidson had the nerve to ask for Kardashian’s number even before they kissed in that now-infamous Aladdin skit? Clearly, they were written in the stars!
The apparent intensity of the relationship quickly added to its intrigue. There was Kardashian, on Ellen Degeneres’s couch, divulging that Davidson had engaged in various forms of body modification to express his adoration for her. There was the “My Girl is a Lawyer” tattoo (which, since the breakup, has prompted jokes that Davidson should get with Gloria Allred). “That one is cute,” Kardashian said, and I couldn’t help but agree. As for the now-infamous “Kim” brand, Kardashian said that ubiquitous It Girl boyfriend Davidson wanted to go beyond his standard operating procedure of getting multiple tattoos in a paramour’s honor. As she summarized his logic, “I just wanted it, like, there as a scar on me.” In retrospect, that was a red flag that things might have been a bit too intense. (Ditto his inking of the first initials of her four children’s names.) At the time, however, it was still more proof of this fiery love affair—one that seemed different somehow than his previous entanglements with Ariana Grande, Kaia Gerber, Kate Beckinsale, Phoebe Dyvenor, and still others whom I don’t have the brain space to remember. And compared to Kravis’s brazen PDA, it was nothing.
No Kim/Pete retrospective would be complete without taking stock of their seemingly toxic triangle with Kanye West, who made his animosity toward his ex-wife’s new boyfriend known in a series of troubling Instagram posts, lashing out at Kardashian and giving Davidson the unsavory nickname “Skete.” (After the news of Kardashian and Davidson’s breakup, West shared on Instagram, and subsequently deleted, a mock news article reporting “Skete Davidson’s” death.) Their interactions with West—including the leak of a text conversation between Davidson and West in March in which West asked where Davidson was, and Davidson replied “In bed with your wife”—were disturbing. Still, a certain morbid fascination only increased the eyes on Kardashian and Davidson. The texts went mainstream, with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush breaking down the drama, and confessing their obsession, on the Today show.
Aesthetically, Kardashian’s look leans superhuman, but her relationship with Davidson was ultimately humanizing. Like any number of divorced women looking for a sexy rebound, she sought a man whom Beckinsale once described as “having his own bag of mischief.” “I went for it, and you know what? I’m in my 40s, like, fuck it—sorry—just go for it, find your happiness,” Kardashian told Degeneres. When she finally began to open up about Davidson on The Kardashians, she described getting his number from an SNL producer and pursuing him on an unabashed quest for sex. “I heard about this BDE,” Kardashian said. “I need to get out there…I was just basically DTF.”
And weren’t we all, metaphorically, DTF with this relationship, which just so happened to coincide with society’s descent into hellishness, from war to the toppling of reproductive rights and climate protections? Kardashian and Davidson—however awkwardly ascending the steps at the Met Gala—were a saucy little escape from all that. Just as Davidson may have been something of a diversion for Kardashian, so too was the pair a balm for our weary souls.
Alas, Kim and Pete aren’t over yet. Davidson will still appear on the upcoming sophomore season of The Kardashians, per the trailer, dropping his phone to gleefully accept an invite to shower with Kardashian. (“Babe, do you want to shower with me real quick?” is a sentence that shall live forever in infamy.) The production delay between the real-life Kardashian news cycle and its airing on Hulu continues to be awkward, but for those of us lamenting the end of the affair, it’s the gift of one last glimpse.